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Augmented Reality- Making Successful Business Models and Apps (Part-1)

Augmented Reality(AR) is undoubtedly is one of the promising verticals within the entire domain of Internet Of Things. A lot of industries are employing Augmented Reality adding strength to their businesses while creating value and brand recognition as a derivative.


At this moment, AR seems to be a promising and lucrative technology to invest in. Due to low-cost-of-entry and fewer entry barriers, many companies, including Small-Medium enterprises are pursuing their business goals that AR can probably accomplish. Apart from numbers of other substantial reasons makes AR a promising technology and worth the investment in future.

Let us quickly point out some driving factors of the technology before we take a deep look into the trending application of the tech.

  • Lower barriers to entry. You just need a solid mobile app to get started and explore
  • Wider applicability as compared to VR as Smartphones are across income demographics
  • AR brings in fun and curious visual elements, makes it optimal for presentations and ads
  • High applicability in engineering, modelling, and other disciplines within the Education Industry
  • A lot of potential in vehicular navigation, city stroll etc.
  • Can be bundled with Toys, Cards, and Books. Applicable in games, entertainment, marketing etc.

Unlike other IOT devices such as Beacons and app-driven home appliance management systems, Augmented Reality is far more immersive and comes with a strong consumer-ish orientation. With AR, the final goal to be achieved has to be substantial enough to attract continuous app usage. This implies an intensive use of entertaining elements (animation) that finally results into substantial value addition to your users. In other words, a successful AR venture is a lot like Yin and Yang with both elements balanced out.

One of the best way to confirm this is to look into Vuforia Portfolio at the moment. Since Vuforia’s SDK is imperative within the entire AR market, their portfolio can give us a lot of insights as to where are AR industry is skewed towards. If you are contemplating making an AR app for any purpose, this one is important for you.

Category of AR apps in demand
Vuforia’s portfolio showing certain categories with more demand. Snipped from Vuforia Portfolio

As assumed, a lot of app development took place in industries such as advertising and marketing, gaming, Publishing, Education and Retail. Among these, education seems to be the  random one. But that is not the truth. Entertaining elements with cool 3D animations can do wonders in education. If you ever struggled between Transverse and Cross section of a structure in school, you know what we are talking about. Augmented Reality is the right tool to solve those problems.

Irrespective of the category, majority of successful AR apps have one thing in common — ‘Being able to attract continuous app usage and giving great AR experience to consumers while helping businesses’. For any AR app idea or business model to work, one should always weigh prospects of the entire business model, which is in turn dependent on app usage and execution. You need to look deeply into this phenomenon and see how it plays across your own business model.

Even if you are planning to make a standalone AR app, these two factors will be every important.

While we understand the basic driving forces for a successful AR venture, unless we dive into some individual ones, we cannot be confident enough to go forward with our own. So let’s browse through a few successful AR apps and see how do they manage to balance the Yin-and-Yang of app usage and great execution.

Yelp Monocle-

What do you do when you already have a huge database popping with cool restaurants and various other details? Well, you bring in a support service to cash into that and further strengthen your business. Yelp Monocle does the same. The convenient app uses your smartphone’s GPS and compass to display AR markers for nearby restaurants, bars, and other businesses in real time, each bundled with user-generated ratings and reviews. If signed up with a Yelp account, the app additionally provides directions to nearby friends and the businesses they’ve recently checked into.

Yelp AR app UI

Why is this good?

  • AR used as a catalyst and support service for Yelp which is already established
  • Restaurant, Food, and Cafe search queries are high, meaning a substantial user base
  • Restaurant, Food, and Cafe search queries are frequent, meaning high retention and MAU
  • Huge and Vivid potential for advertisement


Well, we need not talk much about this one as it belongs to Google. But to sum it up, this one is one of the best examples of how one can exploit AR. Ingress makes its players go out every time and make use of the AR technology. This is engagement 24X7 which is leveraged by AR. If you want to make something like ingress, it is possible but have the servers and a team to backup your plan.


Why this is good?

  • Constant engagement of the userbase.
  • Low chances of app deletion
  • Discovery of places implying potential for advertisement


Ghost hunting with Spectrek AR app
Ghost hunting with Spectrek AR app

This is one step short of ingress where you do not have multiple players. However, hunting for ghost across your vicinity with this AR app can be really interesting.

Why is this good?

  • Works on an engaging and fun concept of horror
  • Can be potentially used with beacons to create immersive experiences
  • Similar ideas can be applied by museums, colleges etc. to display information
  • To create more games with fun elements

While the app is cool and has the potential to draw engagement, it has equally high chances to be deleted by users. Unlike Ingress, the lack of interaction between users can dampen the app usage after a while. This is where a potential business model such as Yelp proves beneficial and meaningful w.r.t  employing Augmented Reality.

Difference between building a value-adding AR app vs. something less worthy-

You would stumble upon tons of cool AR apps in the app store made by indie developers. Despite being cool or featuring awesome animations, an app might be devoid of any utility and can face steep deletion by users.

An AR app that shows WiFi spots
An AR app that shows WiFi spots

Here is an example- I won’t name the app but here is a screengrab of the UI. This AR app shows you potential WiFi network on the screen and along with details such as signal strength and encryption details for the networks. Well, this one surely is not a very good idea as-

  • It does not really have scope to utilize AR to its full potential
  • Substitutability of inbuilt tech within the OS with this app is minimal
  • It does not compliment any popular service, product or brand
  • Appeals to a very small set of users looking for free WiFi zones

There is another app from a popular furniture brand. While there is nothing wrong with the app, the business value expected from the app is not clearly defined. You can use their apps to place furniture virtually in a room and see what fits and what does not.

Why is this bad?

  • One cannot guarantee the usage of their own app for the purpose
  • You do not browse furniture every day, implying eventual deletion of the app

However at the same time, the app can add value to the brand if it is used in demonstration purposes by the company. One cannot think of spinning out money right away from the app(s).

There are a number of AR apps out there in the market getting a lot done for people. However, their success depends on the fundamental idea of coupling continuous usage and cool execution as discussed.

If you have an AR app idea or a complete business model thought around Augmented Reality, you may want to put that through this line of thought and evaluate its viability.

We will soon write another post in extension to this one evaluating the role of wearables for the AR Market.

Arup Dey

I am passionate about Games, Content Marketing, NLE apps and Videos. In my free time I Read, Eat and Code. I see life around me as interconnected subsets of small events. Helps me learn a lot!